John Adams: Hey, Tennessee, give free tickets to kids

John Adams

You probably have heard that the University of Tennessee has joined up with Bristol Motor Speedway for a rare ticket promotion.

For a mere $110, you can buy a ticket to both the NASCAR race at Bristol and UT's home opener against some team from the Northwest whose name escapes me at the moment.

Here's the best part: You don't even have to donate $10,000 to the UT Fund To Pay Off Fired Coaches And Administrators or fork over $100 to park your car within a 5K race of Neyland Stadium.

What a bargain, huh?

As good as that looks, my guess is the best deals are yet to come.

Why? Because UT wants to pay back its fans for all their suffering during the last school year.

Just kidding. The motive behind UT's ticket promotion is — and this might shock you — money.

The Vols' opener against that team from the Mountain Standard Time Zone isn't a sellout. That's indicative of a greater problem. UT's non-conference schedule, which includes four games at Neyland Stadium, is about as appealing as a telethon for corporate executives.

After the opener against — now, I remember — Montana, which is not to be confused with Montana State, the Vols will play non-conference games against Cincinnati, Buffalo and Middle Tennessee State.

Too bad Bristol doesn't have NASCAR races scheduled every month. Instead, the Vols likely will have to partner up with local cinemas and restaurants, who could offer " football, dinner and a movie" in one modestly priced package.

Before the promotions get too desperate — a blockbuster deal including a gas station, fill-up and a Buffalo ticket, perhaps — I'd like to suggest a novel concept: How about giving tickets away?

"Whoa," you're thinking. If UT starts giving away tickets to football games, the next thing you know it won't be able to afford a pay hike for its chancellor.

Don't get panicky. This isn't about something as frivolous as goodwill. It's good business.

And it has been done before.

Tommy Wilson, a lifelong UT fan, remembers gaining free admission during the Harvey Robinson era (1953-54) when the Vols went 10-10-1, which isn't all that far off the 18-20 pace of the last three years. All he needed was his Boy Scout uniform.

"The South end zone of the stadium was full of kids," Wilson said.

The impact wouldn't be any different today, especially if you aren't too picky about what youth group it is. Whether it's the Future Business Leaders of America or Young Geeks for a Better Tomorrow, let as many of them in as the stadium will accommodate.

It should be able to accommodate plenty when Buffalo rolls into town Oct. 1.

This promotion wouldn't just help fill the stadium. It would serve as an investment in your future.

One of those Young Geeks for a Better Tomorrow might turn out to be the next Bill Gates. Or one of those Future Business Leaders of America might be the next Jim Haslam.

They also might remember what a great time they had at Neyland Stadium. The kid you let in free today could help fund your program in the future.

Something else about letting kids in the stadium: They make a lot of noise.

And they don't care if they're yelling against Georgia or Montana.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns

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Comments » 61

Brillovol writes:

How about giving free access to GVX247?

GerryOP writes:

Why do I sense that the UT Ath Dept has told the KNS Tweeters to buzz off ... leaving the KNS Tweeters nothing to post except this kind of sarcasm?

C'mon John, you're better than this.

NoSirRee writes:

How bout NO, ya crazy dutch bassstard!

bevostern writes:

This article is not good. I am not a John Adams hater like the rest of the people on here but it is not that expensive to attend a game. You can park for free a ton of places between in downtown, etc. Tickets are not ridiculously expensive compared to a pro game in any sport (you pay for better seats with donations). If we beat Florida, Buffalo is a sellout and you will not be able to get in the Georgia game for less than $200. A couple of wins will make everyone forget the last few years.

nepperso#220348 writes:

Seriously I'm done. This is the last time I'm reading an article from Adams. I refuse to click on this refuse again.

dwa7#337691 writes:

early predict:

UT 41
Montana 17 I'll be there

wally writes:

in response to Brillovol:

How about giving free access to GVX247?

There you go. +1

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to Brillovol:

How about giving free access to GVX247?

+2. Possibly the best come back I've ever seen on this site. Way to go, Brillo.

traderjoe writes:

Great scheduling. I'm sure coach Dooley will correct this and get UT out of the SEC and into that spicy league he's from...what's its name?

agentorange writes:

these coaches like the memphis poon and the ad from michigan who are afraid to play a real schedule are a product of the tv deals. the money is ruining college fb.

Kelly8 writes:

in response to bevostern:

This article is not good. I am not a John Adams hater like the rest of the people on here but it is not that expensive to attend a game. You can park for free a ton of places between in downtown, etc. Tickets are not ridiculously expensive compared to a pro game in any sport (you pay for better seats with donations). If we beat Florida, Buffalo is a sellout and you will not be able to get in the Georgia game for less than $200. A couple of wins will make everyone forget the last few years.

I like the article, but agree with your post. You can definitely do it on the cheap, especially when we're bad. The secondary ticket market is where it's at, although I suspect UT and IMG have a plan to get involved there too.

T4vols writes:

I have 4 season tickets, and I am very sad! I remember giving a ticket away to a lady as I was entering the gate, because she couldnt get in. She had a new born with her and they told her every body had to have a ticket. I knew she wouldnt sit close to me, and I was just keeping my ticket for the extra space! Very sad how far we have fallen! Give the students or kids extras!!!

heyitsme writes:

The kids that you let in "free" today, will be the same kids that will grow up thinking everything should be "free".

Looks like John Adams supports social justice being applied to UT home football games. You know, the philosophy that one group works extremely hard to gain monetarily, while another group claims that they deserve the same but without working for it.

DroopyDrawers writes:

John, U R awful.

rusty_shackleford writes:

As bad as UT football is, it's not the KNS! They don't have to give away tix like you morons give away free papers. Besides, UT football WILL get better while the KNS will founder in it's 100 year old business model with no idea how to overcome, adapt, or improvise.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Actually, IMO the best free ticket someone could give is one to Adams............a one way ticket back to Louisiana.

When you rate the sports writers at the KNS, looking back at people like Lundy, Siler, West etc, this guy doesn't really deserve an honorable mention vote.

He should be on a stage however.........next stage out of town.

cloudodust writes:

Good-will could also be shown by offering nickel beer, but only to adults...Shoot, maybe a couple of the kids could be future 5 star recruits that want to be nothing but a Vol one day after sitting in a sea of Orange. Then we could rock -heyitsme- by offering up a free college education...

PumpGuy writes:

in response to heyitsme:

The kids that you let in "free" today, will be the same kids that will grow up thinking everything should be "free".

Looks like John Adams supports social justice being applied to UT home football games. You know, the philosophy that one group works extremely hard to gain monetarily, while another group claims that they deserve the same but without working for it.

My parents did not care to go to football games, so in the 70's my first memories of UT football were of our youth football team going as a group on free tickets. Today I am a UT graduate, donor, and season ticket holder. I would say that investment back then worked out pretty well.

dvhill100 writes:

I think the article is fine. Yes, there is some sarcasm, but get over it, it is his style of literary humor. I personally don't have a problem with getting kids in the empty seats. At least they'll most likely buy something from the concessions and put a little $ in the pot.

Go_Big_O writes:

I enjoyed this article. JA could write War and Peace and you guys would female dog about it. I thought it was funny. Thanks John. The rest of you might want to lighten up a little bit.

Classof72 writes:

If they can't sell the tickets, try a "Silent Jumbotron Saturday". If they sell out the discounted tickets, they agree to turn off the sound from the Jumbotron. Otherwise, they'll play recordings of John Adams reading his columns from the Jumbotron speakers. They'll sell out every game.

VOLliven2it writes:

Hey John, you're a sellout on negativity when it comes to the Vols. Why not give free time to kids instead of writing the negative Ned column dude? Oh well, no doubt your not doing that is about money too.

TennHillbilly writes:

in response to dvhill100:

I think the article is fine. Yes, there is some sarcasm, but get over it, it is his style of literary humor. I personally don't have a problem with getting kids in the empty seats. At least they'll most likely buy something from the concessions and put a little $ in the pot.

Agreed. Give the kids a Saturday they will remember for a very long time.

budd#207344 writes:

in response to heyitsme:

The kids that you let in "free" today, will be the same kids that will grow up thinking everything should be "free".

Looks like John Adams supports social justice being applied to UT home football games. You know, the philosophy that one group works extremely hard to gain monetarily, while another group claims that they deserve the same but without working for it.

Making the leap from giving kids free tickets to communism. Boy that is a good one. Maybe we should just give free tickets to kids who can prove they mowed the lawn. And it would take jobs away from illegal immigrants at the same time.

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to cloudodust:

Good-will could also be shown by offering nickel beer, but only to adults...Shoot, maybe a couple of the kids could be future 5 star recruits that want to be nothing but a Vol one day after sitting in a sea of Orange. Then we could rock -heyitsme- by offering up a free college education...

We do give free college educations, to all qualified players

SecretCT writes:

Far better to have butts in seats instead of empties any day, but I'm not sure that giving seats away is the answer either. How about one of those Groupon/Knoxdeals specials for upper deck seats? Why not offer group discounts for all of the little league football teams?

When I was a kid, I got into a Bristol Busch race for free for wearing a scout uniform. It was great, but I never went back because I have now experienced it and have no desire to pay for a ticket. Hmm....

HoraceMorris writes:

How about they lower the prices of the tickets? Bristol too as far as that goes? When something isn't in demand and you're having trouble selling said product, you lower the price to sell more. It's good business sense. In the case of Tennessee and Bristol, they need every seat filled not to give off a bad perception. It's rare to see sporting event places lower their ticket prices. They think it's a sign of defeat.

gortrtt writes:

Friends don't let their sports-writer-friends write while drunk.

Option writes:

Despite the sarcasm, this is a good idea. Kids buy lots of concessions too.

Volunatic writes:

in response to PumpGuy:

My parents did not care to go to football games, so in the 70's my first memories of UT football were of our youth football team going as a group on free tickets. Today I am a UT graduate, donor, and season ticket holder. I would say that investment back then worked out pretty well.

Good point. The Cubs used to let any kid wearing a little league baseball uniform in to the games for 25 cents.
The Cubs stank then, they stink now, they haven't won a World Series in over a century, and the still have legions of loyal fans that pack the stands anyway.

GR82BaTennesseeVOL writes:

in response to Go_Big_O:

I enjoyed this article. JA could write War and Peace and you guys would female dog about it. I thought it was funny. Thanks John. The rest of you might want to lighten up a little bit.

Ditto.

Orange_Juiced writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

This might be a little bit closer to the truth:

Why does everyone hate CSS AKA VANDYGRAD. FATE tells the truth, something VANDY fans cant come to grips with. CSS has been telling LIES here for two years and IS hated. GO TO a fantasy Island VANDY SITE where BLACK AND GOLD Koolaide IS SERVED WITH WINE AND CHEESE and realize most fans are upset over the lack of ANY ATHLETICS AT ALL and the demise of an ATHLETIC DEPT. Quit HOPING FOR A FRANKLIN REVIVAL and REMAIN AT LOW EXPECTATIONS AS YOU WITNESS VANDY type results. ANY SEC game should never be PLAYED. It's just one more EXERCISE IN FUTILITY as VANDY fans CONTINUE TO HOPE and THEN HAVE THEIR HOPES DASHED. The ticket sales show the fans are tired of being abused (no change). I agree, SINCE seats ARE GOING TO BE empty ANYWAY, try RUGBY. Truth, you can't handle the truth! (no change)

eefor10c writes:

john, haven't you heard! They are already giving free admission to washed up sports writers/columnists from kns. If they did let people in free you would be the first to point out that they weren't paying customers.

VolzsFan writes:

in response to HoraceMorris:

How about they lower the prices of the tickets? Bristol too as far as that goes? When something isn't in demand and you're having trouble selling said product, you lower the price to sell more. It's good business sense. In the case of Tennessee and Bristol, they need every seat filled not to give off a bad perception. It's rare to see sporting event places lower their ticket prices. They think it's a sign of defeat.

Dude, they have waived many of the required donations, they have partnered with neckcar, they have created some kind of Mini Pack, they have had meet your seats one after another. If that is not many price reductions if not outright begging, I do not be knowing what that be. Hamilton, as unlikely as it seemed just 5 years ago, has killed the golden goose. Get used to it. The days of UT winning 9.5 games per year, playing in the SEC Title game every few years, having the most ESPN Gameday appearances in the country and averaging 105K in the stands per game are over. Adams, Hamilton, Haslem and the vocal minority of fans have done it to UT. Enjoy the change.

stevefrommemphis writes:

Adams' idea is excellent. I have said basically the same thing in posts on here. One of those kids might be the next Jim Haslam, or he might be the next Chuck Webb or Reggie Cobb.

I remember back in the 1970s when the north end zone bleachers had high school kids in letter jackets, and I believe they had Band Day and Future Farmers of America Day back then.

Fill up those empty seats. Distribute those tickets to high schools around East Tennessee. Regenerate interest in Tennessee football!

Brillovol writes:

in response to Chris4Vols22:

+2. Possibly the best come back I've ever seen on this site. Way to go, Brillo.

Thanks. The parallels are eeire after seeing the recent "promotion" of the fledgling pay site.

Brillovol writes:

To the article at hand, giving deeply discounted tickets to kiddo and youth groups is actually a smart move.

The sarcasm in the article ruins it for me, though. It's not about what you say, but how you say it. I'm not asking for the sports editor to be gushing with enthusiasm, but some respect and admiration for the program would be nice. Constant sarcasm grinds on your nerves after so many years.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm going to have to check tomorrow morning to see if the sun comes up in the West because you finally wrote a post that I agree with. I totally agree that UT shouldn't have cancelled the UNC series. They were NOT going to kill the Vols, but a UT win would be a big boost to Vol recruiting in NC.

The biggest impediment to Big Orange success, Mike Hamilton, has been dismissed. However, I am not ready to give up on Dooley and Martin, even though neither would have been my first choice. Both started out in a deep hole, and it is easy to denigrate their backgrounds if one tries as hard as you do, but I think both have the qualities needed to get their teams back to championship contention WITHOUT raising red flags to the NCAA.

As to the main point, if demand is low you either lower prices or give away freebies. Of course, it would also help to improve the product, but I think that process is well under way. Tickets will be at a premium again soon enough, but there is no upside to a half-empty stadium in the mean time and it will be harder in any case to build life-long "brand loyalty" among young people, given all the distractions available to them these days.

formerflgranny writes:

JA, I don't know how you manage to keep your job.....UT should ban you and KNS from all info!!!!

BillsBrother writes:

Sure Things in Life
1) Death
2) Taxes
3) GVX readers moaning about John Adams

HoraceMorris writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Dude, they have waived many of the required donations, they have partnered with neckcar, they have created some kind of Mini Pack, they have had meet your seats one after another. If that is not many price reductions if not outright begging, I do not be knowing what that be. Hamilton, as unlikely as it seemed just 5 years ago, has killed the golden goose. Get used to it. The days of UT winning 9.5 games per year, playing in the SEC Title game every few years, having the most ESPN Gameday appearances in the country and averaging 105K in the stands per game are over. Adams, Hamilton, Haslem and the vocal minority of fans have done it to UT. Enjoy the change.

That's only a reduction if you buy something else with it. Go over there and buy a ticket to the first game with no other offers. It still costs $40 per ticket. That's too much to see them play against a team from a lower division. Most people don't want to buy anything extra, they just want the ticket for that game.

tomkats3242 writes:

John should have been barred from campus long ago. "Still here because noone at the paper has the guts to fire him. That is another reason I will not read the paper is becasuse they do not care about you or I they just want your money like UT. FIRE ADAMS

MikeTheTiger writes:

It works for the Lady Vols, why not the football team?

wbg writes:

Keep the articles coming Mr. Adams. And I say that with respect.

gogovols2002#222335 writes:

Whats the alternative? Schedule a few top programs and get thrashed? And then no chance of a bowl? Even if it is the Toilet Bowl at least the season is extended to to help prepare for the next year & get exposure.

CrankE writes:

in response to Brillovol:

How about giving free access to GVX247?

+1000.

In similar fashion, GVX coverage is in the dumps and generally covers one of these categories:

a) people who hate Tennessee
b) people who used to be at Tennessee but are widely disliked
c) former Tennessee people coaches/players who are still bitter
d) Peyton Manning
e) anything actually having to do with UT Athletics.

Halls3 writes:

I agree with JA. Why not give unsold tickets for free to kids. At least you get a butt in that seat who may buy some concessions. But then again why would UT want to help anybody financially but themselves. Cut coaches salaries, raise tuition, & increases prices on everything just to make an extra buck.

Theo writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You can't handle juggling razors either but I wish you'd try.
How's the bowling recruiting going for next year?

orangeman1 writes:

in response to gogovols2002#222335:

Whats the alternative? Schedule a few top programs and get thrashed? And then no chance of a bowl? Even if it is the Toilet Bowl at least the season is extended to to help prepare for the next year & get exposure.

Nobody is suggesting UT schedule "a few top programs". But North Carolina hasnt finished top 25 in 14 years. To back out of that game is cowardly. I am just glad I'm not a season ticket holder because I would ticked to pay $500 to see UT play their home schedule this year form the nosebleed section. Also to hear Dooley say UT will be playing a 1AA team every year now because the SEC is so tough doesnt make me too happy. This is the lowest I've felt as a UT fan since I started in the mid 80's. I really hope to see some improvement this year. Its never been more than 1 year since I started being a fan that UT hasnt won at least 9 games. And if predictions are right about this year, it will be 4 years in a row with less than 9 wins. I'm ready for some improvement. Dooley even said himself that Youth/inexperience is no excuse so I plan to take him at his word and expect at least 8 wins this year even though thats still below what expectations used to be.

Tau_of_Tennessee writes:

in response to stevefrommemphis:

Adams' idea is excellent. I have said basically the same thing in posts on here. One of those kids might be the next Jim Haslam, or he might be the next Chuck Webb or Reggie Cobb.

I remember back in the 1970s when the north end zone bleachers had high school kids in letter jackets, and I believe they had Band Day and Future Farmers of America Day back then.

Fill up those empty seats. Distribute those tickets to high schools around East Tennessee. Regenerate interest in Tennessee football!

Ditto Steve; good idea. I saw my first Vols game in the 8th grade in '74; 3 games that year. It was huge! I can still remember the games and final scores. I am a UTAD donor today. It is one of only two athletic teams I give a hoot about.

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